A Second Childhood – St Peter’s Revisited

You may well wonder I suddenly seem obsessed with my schooldays, and for the moment, I really am! Having left school, and Africa in one fell swoop at the age of 18 when my parents retired and went to settle in England taking their family with them it had never occurred to me to stay behind on my own.

My sister, Ruth, and I were so miserable, that first UK winter when we did not know a soul and everything felt very alien. But naturally, we soon met and made friends and gradually our new lives took over and we eventually lost close touch with many of our really good friends from our school. The school closed in 1977, and as far as we knew, all records disappeared with the nuns. It is now a Jehovah’s Witness – or is it Seventh Day Adventist? institution. Anyway, our High Church nuns must feel anxious…

Tomorrow, on Wednesday 26th August – over 55 years since I left and last saw many of the girls I am going to a  St Peter’s Diocesan School for Girls, Bulawayo, reunion, to be held near Oxford. What excitement!

I have been having a lovely time poring over old school photographs in rather battered childhood albums, with black and white photos taken with my Box Brownie, all carefully stuck in with coloured photographic corners, with headings written equally carefully, in white ink. John has reproduced many of these, which I have uploaded into the St Peter’s School pics gallery. Another SPUDS old girl and longtime friend, Sally Cathie (nee McAllister) has sent me some too. In spite of all our complaints about the lack of food and the cruelly repressive regime, we were a healthy, cheerful looking bunch, and certainly not obviously underfed!

I am really looking forward to the event. Fortunately we have been asked to have our names/maiden names all written large upon our bosoms, so there should be no excuse for not instantly recognising everybody. 

No doubt we will all have so much to chat about. a number of UK resident old girls are very disappointed at not being able to come so I have promised to report back upon my return.

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Marion Fuller-Sessions

Recently retired after a busy and varied career, now retired and downsized in theory and enjoying more time for family, friends etc, keeping in touch via my blog

12 thoughts on “A Second Childhood – St Peter’s Revisited”

    1. Thanks Bev. The reunion was an amazing experience. The people i’d kept in touch with didn’t seem to have aged much at all, while everyone else seemed to have aged enormously. Odd, isn’t it?

  1. A refreshingly unrepressed looking bevy of beauties! You look as if you are having a whale of a time. Hope your reunion goes well!

    1. Gill, you are quite right! That’s what our parents used to say, and when we complained about being hungry my father used to say he had yet to see a thin St Peter’s girl. Which was true but we claimed we had to fill up on bread. To be fair, what we had was usually okay but not over generous! The nuns’ theory was you should get up from a meal feeling you could eat it all over again i.e. not feeling bloated and overfull…

  2. Thanks for showing us what SPDS was like before I got there, uniform changed a bit, we had to wear awful boaters would have prefer a soft hat. loved the swimming costumes halter neck or strapless, ours were plain black or green and white speedos for the first team. Loved you all in your ball gowns. I’ll have to see if I can find my old picture again.

    1. Lydia, how lovely to see you found the blog! Times do change and it is fascinating to read the different descriptions of life and uniforms as the school progressed. (We hated our felt hats, because we had to have then turned down all the way round. Turning them up was a serious offence! Maybe that’s why they changed to boaters, which couldn’t be turned up!). I was intrigued to hear at the reunion from a girl who arrived my last year, that by the time she went to the school ball they actually went to the hairdresser!

    1. Thank you , Margie. we only just missed each other! Were you a relation of Myrna Mitchell, who was a day girl contemporary of mine – i think she probably left in 1957? We did hate those hats and having to wear the brims down unlike all the other girls’ school in Bulawayo who turned them up at jaunty angles. Did you see Lydia’s comment below? By the time she went to SPUDS they wore boaters. That was a clever solution of the powers that be!

  3. Names of girls in the black and white photos who remain in my memory were Rosemary Lamb (definitely my year) and others a few years older. Trish Bartlett (who I much admired!), Hazel Palmer who also came from Botswana and Barbara White. I wonder where they are now.

    1. Pat, I am so sorry. Your comment passed me by for some reason. Rosemary Lamb lives in the Cape, I’m not quite sure where, but we are in frequent contact with her sister, Erica (now Erica Forbes and not on Facebook!).Erica lives in Kent. Trish Bartlett and Hazel Palmer I don’t know, but Erica told me that Barb White had died quite recently, in Zimbabwe.

      1. Good grief Marion, you’re a mine of information. I’ve just calculated that most of those names are in my dim and distant past ……60 or so years ago as I left St Peter’s at the age of 12. Your blog has stirred some amazing memories. Thank you!

        1. Pat, I caught up with some news and lots of old faces at the reunion Elizabeth Brown, nee Tyrrell, organised last August, and have recently had a lots of pleasure remaking contact with several good friends of long ago, via Facebook! Erica Lamb I’ve never lost touch with, and we see her a lot when we can – we do love rather far apart.

          I’ve plenty more school memories to dredge up in a post or two! It’s amazing, what seemed so normal – even if we didn’t always like them – people are horrified about now!

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